There is a local channel in my area, Channel 45, which plays all sorts of reruns from old shows.  But late at night, well after midnight and around the time when you would suspect that Frasier would start to get hilarious, they play this horrid Canadian cop show.  I do not remember the name of it, but it takes place in some big city (Toronto?) and they chase criminals in bad lighting and say weird lines.  So my opinion of the television shows from the frozen north is less than generous.  That is, it was until I saw a different and better Canadian show now on DVD.

Starting this April 29th, now available as a special edition boxed DVD collectors set from Acorn Media and Program Partners is the first season of one of the most ambitious Canadian television shows.  Intelligence, Season One is now ready for you to take home.  Enjoy the mean streets of Vancouver whenever you see fit.

This show is all about intelligence.  The characters have to be smart, the cops want good intelligence about what the criminals are doing, the criminals need intelligence about what the cops are doing, the criminals need information about what the other criminals are doing, the cops need information about what other cops are doing to set them up, the criminals need to know who their snitches are and the cops need to know who their moles are.  Every plot line rotates around this central idea of intelligence.  Jimmy Reardon is a self-made shipping magnate in Vancouver with a psychotic ex-wife and a child.  He is also one of the major importers of marijuana, runs a nightclub, helps with shipping illegal shipments of arms, runs some restaurants, uses cash machines to launder his money, and so many other fringe activities.  The Disciples, a biker gang, are beginning to put the squeeze on him and he needs to find a way to fight back.  Then there is Mary Spalding, the head of Vancouver’s Organized Crime Unit.  She’s being considered for a head position in CSIS, but people inside and outside of her department are conspiring against her.  She needs a star informant and Jimmy Reardon needs someone to watch his back.  For better or for worse, the two will rise or fall together.

The special features included in this boxed set collectors edition are a selection of clips from behind the scenes, descriptions of each character, filmographies of each cast member, a biography of the series creator, Chris Haddock, and much, much more.

This show has been compared to both The Sopranos and The Wire.  There are certainly some similarities, but it’s not as apt a comparison as it might seem at first glance.  The characters are wonderful, the acting is superb.  Some people you can’t help but like even though they’re bad and there are always the people you just have to hate.  It took me almost the entire first season to figure out what it is which keeps this just below The Sopranos on my personal radar – the show isn’t coated with that American patina of filth.  Jimmy Reardon wants to keep the peace, he doesn’t want to battle it out with the Disciples, although he’s sure he would win.  He is a family man and never wants to resort to violence.  All the strippers have hearts of gold.  The show doesn’t dwell on hate and anger, people are shown with realistic consequences for their actions.  It is far too balanced of a perspective on both law and crime to fulfill the animalistic desires of American television and rise to the top tier of shows.  And this is a pity, because it surely belongs there.

Intelligence is smart and snappy.

Acorn Media is a home entertainment distributor which delivers high quality television shows to an American audience.  They place a special focus on British and Canadian television shows.

This DVD is available at Amazon.com.

Nathaniel Jonet

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